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Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Blu-ray) (2017)
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Details At A Glance
Featurette-Making Of-Kingsman: Inside the Golden Circle
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Black Cab Chaos: Anatomy of a Killer Chase
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
20th CENTURY FOX
Twentieth Century Fox
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Even though sequels have materialised for two of Matthew Vaughn’s previous motion pictures, 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle denotes the first time that the filmmaker has returned to personally direct a follow-up to one of his own movies. A bold but distinctly organic-feeling sequel to 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Golden Circle is a goofy, enjoyable return to this world of post-modernist spy movie satire masterminded by comic-book writer Mark Millar. It’s filled with flashy gadgets, bawdy humour, energetic ultraviolence, and an array of Oscar-winning actors in supporting roles - and Vaughn’s directorial confidence undeniably bolsters the material. In short, fans of the first movie are sure to find some worth in this insanely fun follow-up, but it won’t change your mind if you disliked the original surprise hit.
Now comfortable in his role as a world-saving secret agent, Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) also endeavours to have a private life outside of his work, maintaining a relationship with Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström). But when the Kingsman are mysteriously destroyed in a coordinated attack, only Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) are left alive. Following their doomsday protocol, the pair are led to America where they meet with their U.S. counterpart, the Statesman. Run by Champagne (Jeff Bridges), the Statesman offer much-needed assistance to Eggsy and Merlin, with agents Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) and Tequila (Channing Tatum) reporting for duty. In addition, Eggsy is reunited with his presumed-dead mentor, Harry (Colin Firth), who now suffers from amnesia. Evidence behind the Kingsman’s destruction points to Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the deranged leader of a major drug cartel who grows tired of hiding in the jungles of Cambodia to oversee her operation. Lacing her products with a highly lethal toxin for which only she holds the antidote, Poppy holds the whole world hostage, seeking to force the immediate legalisation of all drugs.
The Golden Circle is a full meal, dealing with the destruction of the Kingsman, settling in with the Statesman, Harry’s ostensibly hopeless amnesia, Poppy’s intricate scheme, and many other plot machinations, earning its beefy 140-minute runtime which is certainly excessive for a spy film. Its predecessor was long enough at 129 minutes, but this is even longer. Indeed, The Golden Circle is plotted much like a Roger Moore James Bond film - that is, it gets caught up in tangents that ultimately feel superfluous, taking too long to get to the story’s final destination. In particular, there is a mildly amusing but definitely overlong subplot that only serves to satirise the clichéd old spy trope in which the hero must seduce the villain’s girlfriend - it’s dead weight despite a few funny moments. Nevertheless, the movie benefits from a goofy sense of humour, and Elton John is even included, playing himself. John may not be much of an actor, but he’s a total hoot here, and the singer gets in on the action.
There was a palpable father/son bond between Eggsy and Harry in the original film, and this is furthered in The Golden Circle - the film initially deals with how Eggsy deals with the loss of a father figure, but with Harry’s amnesia, the script visibly evokes dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s surprisingly poignant, adding an emotional undercurrent to the mayhem, even if the movie can’t really find anything new to do with Eggsy or the other characters. Still, The Golden Circle does enough to advance the franchise at large to prevent it from feeling too meaningless in the grand scheme of things. In addition, Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman again manage to find time for acerbic socio-political satire between the broader gags. Hell, the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood) actually sees Poppy’s scheme as an ideal way to win the war on drugs once and for all. Plus, Poppy’s Cambodian headquarters - an ancient temple remodelled into a nostalgia-tribute to 1950s America - represents a sly visual commentary on American-style colonialism that really deserves more credit.
Nobody can stage action quite like Vaughn, and he has a ball here, going absolutely bonkers in the major action sequences which easily surpass anything seen in the last 007 movie, the limp Spectre. The action starts early, opening with a dazzling fight scene inside a car set to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” and the sense of creativity scarcely wanes. Whereas the original movie hit a high bar with the astonishing church shootout at the end of its second act, The Golden Circle saves the best for last. The extended assault on Poppy’s jungle HQ is a total gas, combining thrilling fisticuffs with ultraviolent gunplay, backed by a selection of Elton John hits which really tops it all off. There are a fair few catchy tunes throughout, even making terrific use of “Word Up” by The BossHoss, amplifying the sense of goofy fun. And best of all, the set-pieces aren’t cut to ribbons - Vaughn uses his trademark swirling tracking shots, allowing you to see and enjoy every frame of the mayhem without struggling to figure out what’s going on. Vaughn retains his proclivity for enhancing the action with obvious CGI, but this is part of his comic-book style, and it distinguishes the film from many of its contemporaries. What matters is that The Golden Circle is genuinely thrilling throughout its action set-pieces, serving up more of what you loved about the first movie.
Moore is hugely appealing and eminently watchable as Poppy, projecting a buoyant, optimistic attitude while something more sinister bubbles underneath. She’s a treat. Egerton can do this type of material in his sleep now, and he remains a charismatic hero, while Strong provides excellent support. Firth was the surprise standout of the original movie, reinventing himself as an agile action hero despite being in his 50s, and his return here is very welcome. Although some may feel that his survival comes across as cheap and unrealistic, can you really complain too much when Firth is this much fun? Besides, the movie is one big cartoon, who really cares about realism? In spite of what the marketing would have you believe, Tatum and Bridges have very little presence in the movie, amounting to extended cameos which will presumably lead into another sequel or even a spin-off. Pascal gets the lion’s share of the screen-time here, effortlessly pulling off a wonderfully cartoonish American cowboy archetype, and sharing more than a passing resemblance to Burt Reynolds with his moustache, while the movie makes good use of Berry as well. Also keep a look out for Bruce Greenwood and Emily Watson as the President and his Chief of Staff, respectively.
Although Kingsman: The Golden Circle falls short of its gleefully left-field predecessor, it is a worthy follow-up in spite of its overlong runtime and scripting shortcomings. The movie plays smoother on repeat viewings and doesn’t fall apart in hindsight, as silly as it may be. There is still enough inspiration in the action and comedy to ensure that another instalment remains an exciting prospect.
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Arriving on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox, Kingsman: The Golden Circle scrubs up extraordinarily well in 1080p high definition, with an above-average AVC-encoded transfer that will please any and all fans of this entertaining follow-up. This second Kingsman was shot digitally with Arri Alexa cameras (like its predecessor) and completed at 2K resolution, translating to a pleasingly crisp, pristine and agreeably detailed home video presentation which looks faithful to how it was exhibited at the cinema. The transfer retains the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, and despite the wealth of special features on the disc, is given a sufficient chunk of the dual-layered BD-50 to itself, maintaining a sufficient bitrate throughout. It's not exactly a revelatory transfer, but it's terrific nevertheless.
Clarity is first-rate from start to finish, revealing ample fine detail and never looking muddy. It almost goes without saying, but close-ups in particular reveal plenty of textures on skin and clothing, and thankfully this high level of detail is retained in wide shots as well - it's never lacking or unrefined. (A shot of a digitally de-aged Firth is admittedly smooth, but that's how it looked in the cinema.) Edges are razor-sharp as well (aside from certain source-related soft shots, such as a wide shot of Poppy's guards outside her compound at the 110-minute mark), allowing for superb object delineation no matter the lighting conditions. Colours are strong and vibrant, meanwhile - the palette is nicely saturated and features realistic skin tones. In terms of colour, the presentation looks true to how it appeared on the big screen during its theatrical run, with no evidence of unnecessary revisionism. Blacks are agreeably deep, and there are luckily no traces of black crush.
Of course, the presentation is slightly held back by the limitations of 1080p - colours don't significantly pop owing to the Standard Dynamic Range, and textures aren't as precise as they are on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. In addition, Vaughn does tend to make his movies look a tad smooth, which is all part of his style, with perhaps a bit of digital noise reduction. (There is no source noise to speak of.) However, Kingsman: The Secret Service looked identical in this sense. What matters is that the broad strokes of the presentation are superb, with razor-sharp edges, great colours, flawless clarity and agreeable texturing. Thankfully, too, it never looks smeary, nor does the transfer fall victim to much in the way of encoding anomalies like ringing, aliasing or macroblocking. There's a tiny bit of banding during the opening car sequence, but that's about it. It can be hard to overlook the inherent shortcomings of standard Blu-rays with 4K now on the market, but transfers like this remind me that the format still has its merits. This is a fine presentation from Fox.
There are a number of subtitle tracks to choose from. The English track appears to be free of problems.
Video Ratings Summary
Kingsman: The Golden Circle was mixed in Dolby Atmos and exhibited as such in select cinemas, but for whatever reason, 20th Century Fox chose to "only" provide a lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix, which of course is destined to make audiophiles cry foul across the world. But if you can get past the loss of channels, the 7.1 track still packs a real punch and features satisfying surround activity, sounding professionally-mixed in every aspect across the board. This is a loud and aggressive track when it needs to be, and luckily dialogue remains comprehensible no matter the conditions. In fact, the track is so crystal clear that you can make out the slight distortion of Charlie's voice.
During the primary set-pieces, the track roars to life. Subwoofer is excellent, accentuating the impact of every gunshot, explosion, engine roars, and even the rip-roaring original soundtrack. (The climactic mayhem at Poppy's compound will make your walls shake and probably have your neighbours registering noise complaints.) Ambience is used effectively throughout the movie - music can be heard in the background at Glastonbury Music Festival, and sounds of the jungle are heard at Poppy's compound, just to name a couple of examples. The score, as well as the selection of songs played throughout, come through all the channels to best effect - the use of songs like "Word Up" and Prince's "Let's Get Crazy," not to mention the Elton John tunes, really amplify the sense of fun throughout.
I could not detect any encoding flaws; there are no drop-outs or sync issues, not is there any popping or clicking to spoil this wonderful audio track. I'll still deduct half a star since the movie was mixed in Atmos, and the 4K Blu-ray features said Atmos track, but rest assured this is still a superb mix, and anybody with a 7.1 surround sound set-up or anything less will find it perfectly satisfying.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
2015's Kingsman: The Secret Service received a generous special features package on Blu-ray, and luckily Fox have again splashed out, providing over two hours of video extras which is the most comprehensive in recent memory (and more comprehensive than the first movie). It's a shame that there are no deleted scenes to speak of when Vaughn himself has mentioned that over an hour of deleted material exists. An audio commentary would have also been the perfect way to round out the disc, but that's not to undermine what's included.
Kingsman: Inside the Golden Circle (HD; 117:13) A series of nine featurettes totalling nearly two hours, which comprehensively delves into the making of Kingsman: The Golden Circle. You can either watch the featurettes individually or via a "Play All" function.
- Distilling the Story: Kingsman Returns (13:20) - Vaughn is a prominent presence in this first featurette, talking about the original movie and his approach to this sequel. He touches upon the idea of the Statesman, Poppy's motivations, the plot, and bringing back Harry. Other cast and crew also chime in to discuss the genesis of the sequel.
- Trafficker, Tailor, Southerner, Spy (21:25) - Characters and casting. Vaughn talks about bringing in newcomers like Bridges, Tatum and Pascal, while other cast members talk about returning to the franchise. This is a consistently enjoyable and informative featurette, though it's disheartening to hear Vaughn discuss deleted material that is not on this Blu-ray.
- Poppy's Special Guest: Elton John (5:19) - A short featurette dedicated to Elton John, whose cameo appearance is one of the movie's real highlights. Firth and Vaughn talk highly of Elton, and Vaughn even explains that he wanted the singer to feature in the first movie. (It's a shame that Elton himself isn't interviewed.)
- Nefarious Lairs & High-Falutin' Headquarters (12:35) - A look at the sets and the production design. Both the Statesman distillery and Poppy's Cambodian jungle hideout are discussed, with footage showing the design and construction of the sets. Location shooting in the snowy Italian alps is likewise touched upon.
- Suited and Booted (4:20) - Costume design and make-up, etc. Suiting up the Statesman is covered, and creating their distinctly American look.
- Weapons of Choice (4:22) - An overview of the weapons and gadgets in this sequel, with input from the cast and crew.
- Brothers in Arms (12:08) - A featurette about the movie's action sequences. It touches upon virtually everything, from the major set-pieces to the smaller moments of fisticuffs. Whip training and Pascal's double is covered, and there's plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and even glimpses of previz material. This could be longer, but it's insightful and entertaining.
- Doomsday Protocol: Visual Effects (25:01) - The most in-depth featurette on the disc, this is a detailed look at the creation of the movie's digital effects. The piece covers plenty of ground, from the robot dogs to the beauty bot, the set extensions and the cable car sequence, plus more. Visual effects comparisons are provided, and the crew involved talk about what was involved in creating The Golden Circle.
- End Game (20:16) - And finally, a 20-minute featurette about the editing, sound and music. This is rarely covered in documentaries, and it's therefore a welcome addition to the disc. Editor Eddie Hamilton has a bit to say, and there's footage of scoring sessions, sound mixing, and more, with Vaughn giving very specific notes to all parties.
Black Cab Chaos: Anatomy of a Killer Chase (HD; 12:49) An extensive dissection of what it took to create the opening black cab chase. There's loads of on-set footage showing how things were shot, with specific lighting rigs for the green-screen photography, and we get to see the creation of the modified cab itself. This is very worthwhile.
Kingsman Archives (HD) A gallery of images. This is broken up into two primary categories. You can choose to either manually advance through the gallery, or watch the slideshow with auto advance. This is another nice addition to round out the disc.
- Concept Art - Under this submenu, we have "Sets" (18 images) and "Costumes" (another 18 images).
- Stills - Here we have "Behind the Scenes" (9 images), "Sets" (16 images), "Props" (4 images), and "The Cast" (23 images).
Theatrical Trailers (HD; 3:53) Two trailers here.
- Red Band Trailer 1 (1:54)
- Red Band Trailer 2 (1:59)
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
In terms of extras, all editions worldwide are identical, only differing with language options. Buy local.
A riotous big-screen cartoon, Kingsman: The Golden Circle may have been panned quite a bit by critics, but I personally enjoyed the hell out of the movie and I'm glad to own it. Action is suitably crazy, the dark comedy hits hard, and it's entertaining more often than not, despite its mammoth runtime.
Fox's Blu-ray is highly satisfying. The technical presentation leaves little to be desired (even without a Dolby Atmos track), while there is over two hours of quality video extras to sink your teeth into. This disc is well worth a purchase. Recommended.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, December 23, 2017
|DVD||LG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|